Free fulfilment tops online shoppers’ demands

Fulfilment – both in terms of delivery and returns – top shoppers’ considerations when buying online, the latest research from Retail Technology Show, the flagship event for retail, reveals.

Original research of over 2,000 UK shoppers in its latest Retail Revolution report showed that free delivery was the top reason seven in ten (70%) of shoppers would choose to buy from a retailer online, followed by a simple and easy returns process (40%) and being able to access exclusive deals online that weren’t available in-store (35%). Tracked shipping updates came fourth, with over a third (34%) saying having live-tracking on their order would make them more likely to buy with a retailer moving forwards, while flexible and convenient delivery options were important for 30%.

However, despite the demand for free fulfilment, 45% of consumers polled said that a lack of free delivery options remained their top bugbear when shopping online.  And with some retailers, including Zara, starting to charge customers for returns as well as deliveries as it looks to offset some of the costs of reverse logistics, consumers could be left further disappointed, as Matt Bradley, Event Director at Retail Technology Show, explained:

“Despite the rising costs of fulfilment, consumers still demand free, fast and frictionless fulfilment when shopping with retailers online.  And this is causing an increasing headache for retailers who are facing multifaceted cost and inflationary pressures on their businesses, causing a trade-off between meeting customer demands and taking a hit on margins.”

The issue of returns was a key trend featured in Retail Technology Show’s headline stage session with The Very Group’s Digital Customer Experience Director, Paul Hornby.  Speaking alongside Sarah Curran Usher, NED French Connection and MD EMEA at True Fit, he discussed the impact of returns on the pureplay fashion group’s operations and how it was now using personalisation around size and fit to help improve customer experience and reduce inefficient – or inevitable – returns based on fit, as well as size sampling behaviours.

“Fulfilment is the next battleground,” Matt Bradley continued.  “The stakes have been raised by the rise and rise of Q-commerce, and with consumers now used to the concept of fast fulfilment, the challenge for retailers will be to offer a broader range of options – both for delivery and for returns – but which they can manage and, indeed, profit from.”

To find out more about the trends impacting retail in 2022 and beyond – as well as discovering what’s in-store for Retail Technology Show 2023, which will be back bigger and better with an extended exhibition floor on 25 & 26 April next year at London Olympia – download the full report for free: Retail Revolution: A blueprint for transformational retailing insights report – Retail Technology Show

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